Spartans slight football favorite over Laurel

STATEWIDE – After this weekend, teams will have played more regular season football games than there are those remaining on the schedule.

Suffice it to say that for playoff hopeful teams, every game from here on out is a potential “must win.”

Lake welcomes upset-minded Laurel to Felton Friday night. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

Lake welcomes upset-minded Laurel to Felton Friday night. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

After a 0-3 start, not many were looking at Indian River as a possible Division II playoff team. But coming off two Henlopen South wins, including last week’s upset at Laurel, the Indians are one of just three teams left unbeaten in conference play. Their Friday night opponent, Milford, is another of those three.

Lake Forest, which hosts a desperate Laurel team this Friday is the other.

All of that adds up to the fact that there is a possibility the only team without a South loss after this weekend is either IR or Milford. Who would have thought that prior to the season?

This weekend’s biggest game will be played in Smyrna and give the winner a big advantage in the Henlopen North race. Undefeated Sussex Tech visits the Eagles for a game that should feature plenty of scoring.

To the south of Smyrna, Sussex Central visits Caesar Rodney for a game that will likely eliminate the loser from any realistic chance at reaching the Division I playoffs.

Here’s a look at this weekend’s games.

Indian River at Milford: Another week, another homecoming for Milford. Two weeks after spoiling Conrad’s homecoming and one removed from celebrating their own, the Buccaneers travel to Dagsboro looking to disappoint Indian River on its special day.

IR seems to have found its groove after a difficult nonconference schedule left the Indians 0-3, winning its previous two contests by a combined score of 76-18.

Milford, of course, is off to a 4-1 start that not many people saw coming. Paced by consistent scoring threats DJ Bowman, Rashawn Price and Dominyc Hovington, the Bucs have averaged more than 41 points per game so far. They have won their last three games by a combined score of 126-7.

Indian River figures to be a tougher opponent than Milford’s most recent three, but the way the Bucs are playing right now, it’s hard to pick against them. Milford 34, Indian River 20.

Laurel at Lake Forest: Lake Forest played Delmar last week and to the surprise of almost nobody, the game came down to one possession. What did surprise a lot of people, most of them probably Delmar fans, was the way the game ended.

Delmar blocked a short Lake Forest field goal attempt that would have won the game as the clock ran out and the Wildcats began celebrating their first victory of the season. Only, it wasn’t over yet and Spartans kicker Austin Aguilar scooped up the blocked ball and ran it into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

The victory, despite its odd circumstances, kept the defending Henlopen South champions in control of their fate regarding a repeat bid.

Laurel, on the other hand, had its division championship and playoff hopes take a big hit last weekend when IR rallied for a late victory over the Bulldogs. Laurel now likely has to win out if last year’s Division II runner-up hopes to return to the playoffs.

Chances are the winner here will be the team that has the ball last. Let’s guess that team is Lake Forest, which stays unbeaten in the South with a 26-20 win.

Sussex Tech at Smyrna: Last season on its way to a Northern Division title, Sussex Tech went to Cape Henlopen and walloped the Vikings to silence its critics.

This week the Ravens will have a chance to do the same when they head to Smyrna in a game that will put its victor in the driver’s seat atop the division.

There are some obvious differences between the two Sussex Tech teams though, as last year’s featured a dynamic offense that was capable of putting up points in a hurry. The 2015 Ravens still seem to be finding their identity with the ball even though they are out to a 5-0 start.

Smyrna, on the other hand, knows exactly what it is on offense. The Eagles are a scoring machine and there’s no reason to see running back William Knight and the Smyrna attack slowing down here. The pick, Smyrna 42, Sussex Tech 28.

Sussex Central at Caesar Rodney: Not too long ago, this would have been the game of the week south of the canal. As it stands today, both Sussex Central and Caesar Rodney need to win this Friday night contest to stay relevant.

Both teams will likely need to win out to have a shot at the Division I playoffs, meaning the loser here is all but eliminated from contention, particularly if that team is CR.

Look for Sussex Central to get back to .500 on the season with a 20-14 road win.

Predictions for other games played by Henlopen teams are: Woodbridge 42, Seaford 6; Delaware Military Academy 55, Polytech 14; Dover 42, Cape Henlopen 28; Delmar 20, Archmere 14.

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